brent cole (wooden ghost, moldy peaches...) interview by kristin angelique

Interview written by Kristin Angelique for autumn shade fanzine. Recorded and transcribed by Kristin.

Interview with Brent Cole (and Scott Loving was there too!)
Bar Matchless, Brooklyn, New York
August 05, 2004

brent cole, wooden ghost
bar matchless, brooklyn
august 5 2004

photo credit: kristin angelique

K: Where did you grow up?

B: Fayetteville, New York. It was upstate. It was kind of a small town. Pretty cool place.

K: When did you move from there? Did you move here?

B: No, I actually moved around the Syracuse area a couple of times. Moved out to Buffalo, which is also like western New York. And then when I was 19, possibly just about 20, maybe just turned 20. Yeah, 20, I just had turned 20 a little bit and moved to San Francisco and lived out there for a few years and moved back here and have lived here for 6 years. So I've been, yeah, in the city for 6 years via San Francisco stopped off at my dad's for a couple months in between.

K: Where's that?

B: Up in the Adirondacks - upstate - yeah so like I've got New York on lock-down. I lived out west, stayed upstate and now I'm down south, so... screw Albany.

K: Do you remember when and like what prompted you to first get interested in music, like when you started thinking, "music is cool"?

B: Well yeah, I definitely, I remember when I was a kid I used to run around and like blow a whistle, like a referee style whistle, in rhythm to some Billy Joel song. Which is pretty pathetic now in retrospect, but at the same time I was turned on by the music clearly. It might have been Rolling Stones

K: Maybe I like Billy Joel a little more now

B: Yeah, I don't like him either time.

K: if he helped you get into music.

B: I'm not going to say he helped me get into music, but that was my first like connection with music, that I can remember purely.

K: He did something good in his life - that's nice to know.

B: Maybe.

[We are all laughing. Sorry, Billy.]

B: But a friend of mine later on... You know my aunt gave me an acoustic guitar and she was pretty supportive, she was very cool, Aunt Patty. But my friend, Lou, I met him, you know, back in middle school, in 7th grade, and he played drums. And I just thought it was the coolest thing. "Paradise City" had just hit then - and I went and visited his house and I could play that - so I was like, "this is for me" - you know. I could do the beginning any way (vocalizes drum intro to "Paradise City").

scott loving, wooden ghost
bar matchless, brooklyn
august 5 2004

photo credit: kristin angelique

S: It's interesting that you bring up - two things - my aunt gave me my first acoustic guitar and "Appetite for Destruction" was very, "Ap" was very instrumental in me being interested in guitar...

B: "Instrumental"

S: and rock and

B: Definitely

S: yeah

B: So, G & R definitely had a little input.

K: And "yay" for aunts.

B: Aunts.

S: Definitely.

K: I have a nephew (Jonathan) and I gave him music by Bad Brains and Circle Jerks.

B: He likes it or not?

K: Yeah, he likes them both a lot. He's been getting into all this old school punk and I'm so excited for him.

B: Well, I'm an uncle - and at least your nephew's a little more receptive - because like, my niece told me the last time we hung out - she's only 10 - but she said, "Uncle Brent," - "Yeah" - "I really don't like your music." I was like, "Alright then," let's just leave it at that.

[Scott laughs. Kristin sympathizes.]

B: That's all right. She's 10, she doesn't know any better. When she gets older, she'll be like, "Wow his music was even worse than I thought."

B: Here's our drummer showing upright now.

dave reynolds, wooden ghost
bar matchless, brooklyn
august 5 2004
photo credit: kristin angelique

K: So were drums the first instrument you played?

B: They were as a matter of fact - yes - drums.

K: And that was like middle school you said?

B: No, I actually didn't start ...The thing is - I went over and did that - but I got my first drum set and started doing that probably about 10th grade. So 10th grade was about the time I first started really playing and not just like at my friend's house and messing around. I started actually taking it a little more seriously. But at the same time was starting to mess around on acoustic guitar as well. No lessons or anything but more just like I had a lot of friends who played music, so I would learn from them because they knew more than me at the time. Actually, a lot of them know more than me still... So yeah, drums.

K: What were your first experiences playing in bands?

B: The first band I was in - I was sixteen - I was the singer and it... I wasn't a singer exactly; it was more just like I'd kind of won a popularity contest amongst my friends that were musicians. They just had narrowed it down to the two guys that they thought would be good to be the lead singer. It was this guy Ryan and myself - and mostly just because I guess I had like a lot of energy or something and they were kind of like a metal band - so I was the singer... Called NF - Nocturnal Fear - we were a metal band.

K: Did you have like cover songs or

B: We played some cover songs; we played some Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer

K: Megadeth had the best album titles ever.

B: Yeah. We played, you know, a bunch of stuff like that. We played a Suicidal Tendencies cover.

K: That was the first band I ever interviewed.

B: Really?

K: Yeah, with Mike Muir.

B: Nice.

K: Yeah.

[Note: I then led us into a major digression about my favorite experiences with Suicidal Tendencies - and besides that this was a digression - the thought of transcribing it overwhelms me. So maybe I'll save all that for some other time, like if anyone ever interviews me (o:]

d u f u s
cbgb, nyc
august 8 2004

photo credit: kristin angelique

K: What are all the bands you've ever been in?

B: How about if I e-mail you that one?

K: OK. There's a few others you might want to do that with, too.

[Yeah. We skipped ahead here.]

the moldy peaches
the hook, brooklyn
october 14 2004

photo credit: kristin angelique

K: How did you come to join The Moldy Peaches - like when and how - and for how long were you a part of that band?

B: Living here, living down in Manhattan. Another couple of like... This band I play in, Dufus, Seth was getting friendly with them just through that Sidewalk (Café) open mic scene there and they had heard me through this band Dufus and this other band Stipplicon. They liked the bands. So, just one day they approached me. They apparently had stopped the band for a while and did solo stuff for like a year - somewhere around that time - around '99 or 2000 or something like that - and decided to get The Moldy Peaches back together because they had been going on since somewhere around '95 or something like that. So they started it back up again with the band and they asked me to play drums. It was with me, Chris Barron as the lead guitarist, this guy Brian Piltin on bass and Kimya and Adam. Adam was playing rhythm guitar. That's how it started.

K: Chris Barron and Brian Piltin?

B: Chris Barron of the Spin Doctors...

K: Really?

B: and Brian Piltin of the Piltones. Do you know The Piltones? They had a couple of hits in the early-nineties - "Pocket Full of Kryptonite"...

S: You're talking about the Spin Doctors.

K: Yeah...

B: Oh my bad. They're similar

S: But Brian would be excited to know he had a couple of hits.


K: So you kind of answered

B: I answered 17-30?

K: No... but I was going to ask you who the other members were during the time, but...

B: Well, but that was the beginning and then it changed

K: I kind of know like that you were in the band with Jack and Toby and Steven...

B: Well, there was Jack and Steven, and Jack and Steven and Kimya and Adam and me for a while, and then it was... Adam stopped playing guitar; so it was Jack, Steven, me, Adam, Kimya and this guy Aaron (Wilkinson) for this one big US tour we did but then we got back and Toby joined the band and Aaron was out of the band - so that was the final line-up.

K: Did you write or co-write any songs in The Moldy Peaches?

B: None of the ones off that first album - their first album - but on the live album there's a couple of tracks that we co-wrote that were like those Pizza Hut songs and like we wrote songs together that were like - or things after that - you know, I mean but the truth is - If you listen to the way the first album is and then the live album - you can tell that the band actually wrote like a lot of their own parts - like the drum parts I played and the guitar parts Jack played - really moved a lot farther, like you know, stepped up, went to a different place than the (studio) album. I'd say we helped arrange things a little bit near the end, a couple of the newer songs, as a band and, I don't know, in a sense we were responsible for creating like our own identities more than it was like a part - I mean a part was written but you could really express... like Jack was Jack and you know the idea... Like, if you listen to the album, it's basically like Adam playing drums on it; he's a decent drummer but we play drums a lot differently - so, you know, I didn't just stick to his drum beats and the same thing with Jack - like he didn't just play the lead guitar parts that Adam had laid on the first album; he kind of would add flourishes of his own stuff to them - and Steven - the same thing - his bass playing was like far superior to the bass playing on The Moldy Peaches album. So... Is that rude?

K: No

B: It's a fact.

S: It's true - as someone who saw three shows. [Laughs]

the moldy peaches
the hook, brooklyn
october 14 2004
photo credit: kristin angelique

K: When did you play your first and last* show with The Moldy Peaches?

B: The first show had to be at the Sidewalk - somewhere around 2001; late 2000 / beginning of 2001 The last show was January or February of 2002, I think or 2003 actually, right?

S: I think the Irving Plaza show wasn't that in November of '02?

B: There was one after that - we played a show up in Boston or in like Massachusetts somewhere. That was the last one. I'm thinking January of '03. I can't actually tell you where it was... January '03... Oh, it was at the Iron Horse in Northampton, Massachusetts.

K: OK, like, since I don't really know when you were in a particular band probably these questions are out of order but it doesn't matter so, my next question was going to be, "Please tell me all about Stipplicon."

B: All about Stipplicon... Stipplicon was like Jack's mind puppet... Jack Dishel - he's awesome, very creative - he had a lot of good ideas. Very heavy, high-energy music. We were a rock 'n' roll band. Then we stopped; Jack moved out West and we started doing hip-hop. That sums it up.

bruno, jack and brent
sidewalk cafe, nyc
july 4 2004

photo credit: kristin angelique

K: I liked what you guys were doing at the Sidewalk on the fourth of July; that was awesome.

B: Did you see the rock stuff?

K: Yeah!

B: That's what we sounded like, but a lot tighter. We were much better.

jack dishel and the clocksuckers
sidewalk cafe, nyc
july 4 2004
photo credit: kristin angelique

K: I remember Jack saying it was like a Stipplicon reunion.

B: It was, but we were... I mean he was a slave-driver of a bandleader - he was like: "Like this. No, like this!" So, we were a tight band. Very tight. Yeah Stipplicon. R.I.P. - or - D.I.E. ... No, it may happen again someday; he wants to move back East. So, we'll see what happens.

K: He's not just out there (in Los Angeles) recording?

B: No, he lives out there.

K: Let's save the next one for e-mail too. OK. Finally, I'd like to know as much as you can tell me about Wooden Ghost. Like, when and how you formed, when you played your first shows, recorded your CDs, are there two CDs? And who all has been/is a member, whether you ever plan on touring...

B: How about I'll write you this one too, because that's like a lot of facts and stuff that I've just got to think about for a second...

K: Well, maybe you could tell me whatever you think of now and e-mail me the rest?

B: Wooden Ghost... I had this band called Ask the Dust from like '99 - it was like my first band of my own, that I tried to orchestrate or whatever - it existed from like1999 through 2001 - and then like The Moldy Peaches kicked off near the end of that or somewhere in there in 2001 - and it really just didn't leave a lot of time to do it - when I'd come back from tour and stuff like that - just... it suffered a lot. But then one time I realized that the band was really a lot about jamming - and we played songs, but it wasn't very tight - it was like when we played the songs we'd jam and jam and jam like crazy. It was very cool but I kind of wanted to focus on the songs and have a band that was a little more upbeat, rock-oriented... kind of bring a good time to a place; instead of like a downer look-at-your-drink and think about the song shit... So I wanted to change the name of the band too, because there were other people affiliated with Ask the Dust and I didn't want it to disenfranchise others that created that sound and stuff, so I just thought about changing it - finding another band name, making it a little more focused, getting new members - separate members from Ask the Dust - although one person remained - this guy Doug, Doug Keith - he's not here tonight though, ironically. But - then you know you met Dave Reynolds who's our drummer now and Scott (2? too?); not Scott Fragella, but Scott Loving. Scott Fragella was in a different band - you don't want to know about them. He was never in Wooden Ghost any way, so...

K: I don't want to know about them because I really don't or you...

B: I'm just kidding. I don't even know like, I was just fucking around, like I was in a band with Scott Loving and Scott Fragella and I just thought of that out of nowhere - it had nothing to do with anything - it was stupid.

K: Well, except I said I want to know about all the bands you were ever in.

B: Larval Organs was the one; that band that Scott and I were already in together and this other guy Scott and Cockroach were in it... There's some other bands - I'll write you about this because I've got to actually think about that or else I'll leave a couple out and that'll be rude. Because I actually like the band names half the time more than I like the bands themselves.

K: Where did the name Wooden Ghost come from?

B: I really liked the name Ghost for a while and I just thought it would be a cool name or whatever but then I thought there was a band named that already - I think there is - or something like that

S: I think maybe it's just one guy, he's Japanese...

B: Yeah, I figured as much. I was thinking about doing a different spelling - like g-o-s-t with like a hard "o" - or whatever but I thought that might get a little cloudy - and then I was thinking "Tin Ghost" but I thought it sounded a little too hard - and I thought about what's a little more organic-sounding than tin - and I thought "Wood"... So - "Wooden Ghost" - simple mathematics.

K: Were you high?

B: Huh? Since when?

K: When you were involved in the mathematics of choosing a band name. It's a good name.

B: Thank you. I appreciate it. As soon as I thought of it, it like came together in my mind - it reminded me of Crazy Horse

K: Yeah!

B: like kind of a rugged old-sounding thing. And I love Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

K: Actually I thought of Crazy Horse and Neil Young the first time I read your name.

B: Really? Interesting - good - because I love the name Crazy Horse and we'd be called that if they weren't.

S: The 40 Ounce isn't bad either.

B: The 40 Ounce?

S: Who's that? Crazy Horse?

B: Oh, no - The 40 Ounce of Crazy Horse (Laughs)

K: Actually Wooden Ghost sounds like a real Indian name.

B: Nice.

K: OK. This sounds so cheesy to like say out loud - especially with an audience which I wasn't expecting - but fuck it...

B: Twice a day

K: (Laughs) I just wrote - I mean I feel stupid reading what I wrote - but I fuck stuff up worse if I just try to say it and it's kind of long so I better just read it.

B: No, read it out loud.

K: OK. I wrote that "I am so grateful to you for the gift of your CD that you gave me on July...

B: Let me read that

K:  ...4th, 2004...

B: No, I'm just kidding

K: "From the very first listen to - No Minute Gone Comes Ever Back Again...Take Heed and See Ye Nothing Do In Vain - I was spellbound" ...And I don't care if I sound cheesy because I'm being sincere: "It was a revelatory kind of musical experience, one that just stands out, so much... and always will.

Your songs are artistically, lyrically, musically, vocally - and emotionally exceptional. I think every song is a very wonderful song.

I'm especially haunted by "man made object". That song gives me chills.

...There's just so much imagery, and poetry, flowing through your lyrics - especially "to mother (back porch)" - I feel like a ghost - I'm visually walking through that song - and "to father (with the ship)" - they are like short stories and paintings in the way they involve the listener and make you see, hear and feel...

Each of these songs are just shining examples; I think that all of your songs are brilliant - I really mean that - they each deserve special recognition.

"Machines" is such a great opener - not just because it kicks ass, but also because it's so positively inspiring and it gets you singing along right away. And "world on a string" makes a perfect pair, building on the momentum and drawing the listener further in. After "man made object", it's like, how do you follow up a song so remarkable as that one is - and then you gave us "feels life" - and it's like, ok, he fucking did it! Wow...

Your songs segue so naturally from one to the other, even though they are each unique... oh, and also within the songs and the way they unfold - like for instance, "unrehearsed scribble" - that song is so awesome! It's a really cohesive, perfectly mixed and matched track list that ebbs and flows so organically; creating this fantastically sonic and visual experience. Like I keep saying, and I truly mean this, this album fucking blows my mind!

It's not like I'm going to throw away any of my other CDs and records - and I don't think of music as a contest - but you definitely bring light to the theory that there are levels of greatness in art - and I'm sorry if I'm embarrassing you - but in my mind, you are at a very, very high level of talent and more importantly, your songwriting contains so much substance. I can't believe that you are almost like a secret - that can be really special in a way - but I really hope that a lot more people will be hearing your music soon. This is music that not only deserves to be heard, but needs to be heard."

B: I appreciate it. Thank you.

K: OK. That wasn't really a question - that was me - praising you...

B: That was an answer.

K: (Laughs)

K: So, you wrote all these lyrics?

B: Yep. There's some... Like one of the lines in "unrehearsed scribble" is written by Shane Bovell. It's like the last song on that CD I gave you, and I credit him as like inspiring the whole track or whatever, but like he wrote the second verse of that.

K: I love that song so much. It's really incredible. You are a really good songwriter.

B: Thank you. I appreciate it.

K: I love...

B: I'm about to give it up.

K: What? No you're not

B: Yes I am, for tennis.

K: (Laughs nervously.) I never got to see or even hear all your bands, but Wooden Ghost is definitely like a whole other level than The Moldy Peaches.

B: Thanks or good. It's different.

K: You're a songwriting genius.

B: Shit... You've got to tell Adam and Kimya about me.

K: I actually did tell Adam about you - I forget our exact conversation but I'm pretty sure I asked him if he'd heard it - maybe I just assumed he had - but I thought he said he had.

B: Oh, my ass he has.

K: I was saying how awesome I think your CD is and how it's one of the best things I've ever heard.

B: Nice. I appreciate it. Well now you've just got to get Kimya. Just kidding, she'll know someday.

K: Gosh... Well, yeah but I mean she already should know. Actually, if I were to back up, I didn't really skip this on purpose - it was just written as part of one of the questions I was going to e-mail you - but I wrote: "Is anyone helping to spread the word of your music and with the distribution of your CD" and then I wrote that "I want to help any way that I can".

B: Well, just by doing this interview and posting us on the site, helps a lot. So - and quite frankly - that's where we're at right now - we're just spreading the word through the people in the band, you know, Scott, Dave, Doug and I just are putting a lot of work in weekly... We get together at least once a week, we've been playing a lot of shows the last couple of months, hanging up flyers - just doing all that stuff. Dave makes tons of flyers for us in his spare time; Scott's gone out with me and hung them up at 10 o'clock on a Tuesday around up where we're going to play. So it all kind of comes together - you know, grassroots, word of mouth - and hopefully, with a little blessing, you know - some group or someone will hear about us and more people will listen, you know. I trust the music, truthfully, like I think it's good, I think the CDs are very good, I think we're a good live band too - it's different than the CDs, but I think it's good... We put a lot of work into it. But thank you - yeah - I appreciate it - just the interview hopefully, but don't put any of the stuff I wrote, just put the stuff you wrote and then a clip to a song or two...

K: I didn't even want to wait for the interview because you know it takes so long until it's published - that's why I was like the next day - writing on my news page...

B: Oh nice. Yeah, I appreciate that. I saw that.

K: I was like, really, this is one of the greatest albums ever!!

B: Well thank you. Which one, you just have the one, right?

K: Yeah, so you have two, right? I learned that at your website

B: Yeah, so I'll give you the other one. And we just recorded a bunch of new tracks - with the actual band that you're going to hear tonight - with a bass player - he's not here tonight - and they're the best actually. So, unfortunately I don't have anything like that to give you but, it's going to be done - sometime, someday - and it's going to be the best - of the Wooden Ghost stuff I mean.

It was time for the band to finish getting all their gear loaded in and set up so this is where we stopped this part of the interview...

wooden ghost
bar matchless, brooklyn
august 5 2004
photo credit: kristin angelique

Here is what Brent e-mailed me a couple of weeks later that we'd skipped before and/or to add to previous answers:

stipplicon was jack dishel's pet project i drummed in, one of the first nyc bands i played in. great songwriter, high energy music. it was awesome from 99-03. lots of great live performances and one phenomenal ("the late great
truth") album.

wooden ghost used to be ask the dust, a highly improvisational band that used visual art, provided by jen.knee, in a surreal rock show. i kinda wanted to tighten things up, which is funny, cause now i want to loosen things back up, and thus wooden ghost was formed. the members have changed signifigantly, but the current line up is dave reynolds on drums, scott loving on guitar, doug keith on bass and lapsteel and me.

i did play most of the instruments on both recordings, i just find it quick and usually easier at least for a studio environment. i do make up some of the stuff in the studio as well, so i like to go with some ideas set and
find some while i'm there.

tuolumne records is myself and doug keith's record label. we also put on shows as tuolumne presents. it's a way to put  out our own stuff and include each other in every aspect of the musical situation.

we've been playing music for several (about 12) years together in various back to high school. we even moved out to san fransisco and persued music out there together. check out doug's band i play in called the first person to see an elephant. it features dougs incredible songwriting and guitar playing which is the best of old time finger-styles meets new times.

neil young, donny hathaway, slayer, metallica, rumah sakit, charlotte field, bobby digital, cat stevens, tortoise, papa m, built to spill, herman dune, roots dub, israel vibration... lots of bands we like. lots more

dufus is cool, on ROIR records, seth is main songwriter, lot's of band contribution.

bands i've been in: NF, Cleveland funk tribe, oil burner, suspended in amber, ask the dust, stipplicon, nqyti, moldy peaches, dufus, slow learner, drew bood, wooden ghost, the first person to see an elephant, larval organs, concept of india, gorilla monsoon, pepper johnson, wilbur mcbean and phlounder, maybe more.

Interview conducted/written by Kristin Angelique.
Copyright Brent Cole, Kristin Angelique and Wooden Ghost.

ghost tree

photo credit: kristin angelique

wooden ghost picture album at autumn shade fanzine:

autumn shade fanzine @ facebook:

Update! Berth Control is Brent and Scott's current music project (with Cat Rockefeller...) and this is their facebook page: